One of our internal discussions about the future of WP Tavern has stuck with me since it wrapped up. The discussion was centered on pushing comment threads in the right direction. We often receive comments that border on conspiracy-theory territory (and those that cross over head first). We also receive comments that make statements of fact without backing up those claims with evidence.

Not all those who make such comments have ill intentions. The issue is often that the ideas presented in a comment are not fully-fleshed out. Often, the commentator had not taken the time to shape their words into something that births thoughtful responses. Such is the nature of comments on the web.

WP Tavern’s big goal for 2020 should be about shepherding our community. Going forward, we will take steps toward fostering better discussions.

Building Our Community in the New Year

Shepherding the community is about creating a welcoming environment for everyone. All of our readers should feel comfortable leaving their thoughts on a given topic.

As a new writer in a long-standing community, I sometimes receive uplifting private messages and emails from community members. They often have kind words or love the coverage of a specific topic. The trouble is getting some of those people to engage in the comments. As my grandma, who would welcome anyone into her home, would say, “Y’all stop by sometime and chat for a while.” Some people are timid about commenting publicly. Others feel like they will be attacked or their ideas will be dismissed offhand. Fostering a community they would feel comfortable participating in is the goal.

The first step toward this goal is an update to our comment policy.

The intention of our policy has remained the same. In general, be kind to people. The updated policy includes some new guidelines on what is unacceptable and some clearer language in some areas. It would be nice to eventually move back to the point where we no longer moderated every comment before publishing them on the site. We are not there yet, but I remain optimistic.

The other major plan is around integrating community elements into the site design. Rest assured that this is something being worked on. Better showcasing recent comments is high on the list. However, we can go beyond that by showcasing users with the most comments, top comments by the number of likes, and more. I have some ideas that I hope to implement this year to make our readers feel like they have more of a stake in the site. This place is as much about you all as it is about our team.

Ask the Bartender

We have quietly added an Ask the Bartender form on the site. This is our idea of an advice column that you might see in traditional journalism.

At this point, it is experimental. The plan is to publish a periodic article where one of our writers answers questions from our readers. This will give you all an opportunity to bring up the big questions that you want our community to discuss.

We do not have an official format for how this will work yet. It will largely depend on the questions that people submit. We are open to nearly any type of WordPress-related question right now.

What We All Can Do

The biggest thing I ask of the Tavern community that we make 2020 the year that we thoughtfully engage with one another.

More than that, when discussing topics with others online, there is no need to feel like you must win an argument. That usually leads to nowhere good. Present your ideas and let them stand on their own merit.

With that idea in mind, think about writing responses in the form of a blog post. Then, let us know about the post here at the Tavern. Taking the time to write a post allows your ideas to mature. Doing this lets you build a stronger argument if you rationally think it through. Also, WordPress is blogging software at heart. We should use it more often to blog about WordPress.

Happy New Year, everyone! Let’s make this a memorable one.

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